[Libs-Or] Display challenge

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 12 13:31:51 PDT 2021

I posted a statement related to this on the People for Oregon Libraries
Facebook page yesterday. I think this statement is adaptable to your
situation. It is posted on this library’s Facebook page:


Over the past few days, there have been postings (principally on social
media) that misrepresent the content and the goals of the library’s
forthcoming Drag Story Hour, particularly through the use of images that
are not relevant to the nature of the program that is taking place. The
stated intent of many of these posts – the majority of which seem to
originate outside the West Warwick community – is to cancel the event.

Drag Story Hours are a recognized form of library programming for children,
supported by the American Library Association, and this sort of story time
has taken place at other public libraries in the state and across the
nation. The event here celebrates Pride month, and will consist of guest
readers in costume – both of whom have lead story times in the past –
reading children’s books to children and their accompanying parents. The
message we are hoping to get across is that people are different, and that
difference shouldn't be a reason for teasing or bullying. Our special
guests do appear before a range of audiences, but in this instance the
program content will be appropriate for the age group concerned, will be
guided by professional Youth Librarians, and will not pertain to issues of
religious belief or affiliation. We will be partnering for this event with
West Warwick Health Equity Zone (who are funding the program), Youth Pride
RI and PFLAG of Greater Providence. We are offering two time slots for
parents and children to register for the event on June 26th, and the first
of these is already at capacity.

This year we were proud to be one of just 15 libraries nationwide to be a
named a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service by
the Institute of Museum and Library Services. We are the first library in
the state to be so recognized since 2001, and this honor redoubles our
commitment to provide exemplary library service to all of our patrons. We
recognize that not every program we offer matches the interests or the
values of every member of our community, and that patrons may or may not
attend at their own discretion. We will, however, continue to ensure that
issues of equity, diversity and inclusion inform and enrich everything that
we do. Our message is simple – Libraries are for Everyone.

Colin McCullough, Library Director
Nathan Shapiro, Chair, Board of Trustees

On Sat, Jun 12, 2021 at 11:30 AM Rachael Grindberg via Libs-Or <
libs-or at omls.oregon.gov> wrote:

> Hi all,
> Sorry for cross posting.
> I'm in need of help. Around the library we are displaying flags for pride
> month. Our actual book display is for Eric Carle since he died, and we are
> very small so only have room for one display. I got an email from a patron
> complaining about the flags. I tried searching online about how to respond
> to someone who complains about a display, but all of the responses have to
> do with books. I need to respond to this email diplomatically, but also
> tell her we aren't taking the flags down because she asked us to. The
> following is the email she sent:
> Dear Librarians,
> I was in the library today picking up a book.  I hesitated to say anything
> because I so appreciate the hard work of all the library volunteers and I
> did not want to offend anyone.  But as I have been thinking about how
> disturbing my experience was, I think that it may be helpful to you to know
> what caused my distress.  Gay flags, transgender flags, etc. flying
> everywhere.  It may be politically correct to celebrate gay behavior, but
> for many of us in Douglas county, it is no cause for celebration.  It is
> particularly disturbing because you have such a wonderful outreach to
> children.  It is child abuse to encourage children to destroy their health
> with untested hormonal treatments and to mutilate their beautiful bodies
> surgically. Furthermore, encouraging gay and lesbian relationships condemn
> the child to a life of being unable to have children of their own. I am not
> alone in my concerns.
> This is a community library and it is not helpful to alienate a large
> segment of the community if you want community support.
> Please reconsider your offensive advocacy of such a controversial issue.
> Any suggestions for how to respond to this email would be greatly
> appreciated.
> Thanks.
*Diedre Conkling*
*diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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